There once was a little boy called Czesław Mozil who had to leave his home town in Poland at the age of five and make life anew in the distant Kingdom of Denmark. Now, many years on Czesław Mozil has become Czesław Śpiewa (Czesław ‘sings’). He lives in Copenhagen, owns his own bar/pub and has become something of a star in Denmark.
Phoenix from the Flames
His story is one of linguistic and cultural rebirth. Czesław is Danish (by all accounts) and was brought up in the land of the Danes, however, there is and always was something peculiar about him. He was (kind of) Polish.
His (re-)aquantaince with the language and culture of his fore-fathers has imbued his music with an odd form of nostalgia packaged in a shiny wrapping. Apparently, Czesław was talked into singing in Polish by his good friend who saw in Polish a great source of inspiration for him. His music is heavily inspired by all manner of Polish folk music, Polish rock and one can even hear similarities to alternative Rock (such as Kazik Staszewski). But what makes his music so fascinating is the real ‘oddness’ about it. The album Debiut is both very Polish in its feel and very un-Polish, Danish perhaps.
What some (Polish) people may find ‘cute’, ‘quaint’ or just simply interesting is Czesław’s accent. He sings with a Danish accent. His Polish is soft, typcal of much of the post-war second generation Polonia (like my peers) who soften many Polish consonantal sounds. However, the fact that Czesław does use Polish is testament to his love of his motherland and should also be respected. It takes great courage for someone not only to speak but to sing in a language that is not quite as strong as your first. Hats off to Czesław.
The biggest surprise of Czesław’s album entitled Debiut is the fact that all the lyrics were written by the online community and overseen by Michał Zabłocki. This is social networking at its greatest. The poetry was written line-by-line by a variety of online poets on Multipoezja. This means that one online poet would get the ball rolling with the title and it would be followed up, Chinese Whispers-style, by another poet. This meant that any one song lyric or poem has at least fifteen to twenty authors. The result is tongue-in-cheek poetry that makes for wonderful song lyrics.
Polonia Fights Back
Perhaps the future of the Polish ex-pat community may be similar to that of Czesław Mozil aka Śpiewa. Influenced by their time in the west, they may return to Poland with new ideas, a new culture and re-inspire the ‘scene’ in Poland. However, they may do the opposite, like Czesław. They may take the best of Polish culture and re-invigorate their local English, Irish, German or French cultures and arts with their own brand of creativity. Vive la différence!
Czesław’s MySpace site: Czesław Śpiewa.